August Hedge a gram

Happy August!

    I'm looking forward to the publication of On Noah's Ark next month.  In keeping with my idea of showing my life as an author and illustrator, I'd like to tell you what I'm working on.  I'm writing my newsnotes that will accompany my book through my Internet site and my list of friends who have written to me.   About twelve years ago, I sensed a need for a more detail explanation to my letter answers.  Teachers, librarians and kids write to me about "how did I get the idea for a story?" or "do I do research?", and "Do my pets or children appear in my stories?"  I decided to write a letter called my "All About" letter for each current book.  I have read similar letters that Beatrix Potter, one of the most loved children's authors/illustrators of all time, wrote to her niece.  My goal is for kids to know that being a published author doesn't make me all that different.  I still have lots of challenges to surmount and many happy accomplishments to savor.
    My focus in On Noah's Ark is the animals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians of our beautiful earth.  I made a very happy decision, which was to travel to Africa in order to see the great land mammals interacting in their habitat.  I knew many of these; lions, hippos, giraffes, and elephants are fascinating to us all.  I was so enthralled that I've spent the last two weeks painting a diorama of the Botswana Okavango Delta for the newsnotes.  I looked in my dog-eared guidebook and found that we had seen twenty seven amazing mammals and some pretty spectacular birds too.  It is more authentic to draw the animals on the ark from my memory and from the photos we took.
    It means a lot to me to be able to describe my thought process when creating my book, because I just know there is a child out there that will muse, "I can do that!"  I know many of you have hidden talents.   Often we grownups are impressed with the vibrancy and freshness of children's drawing.  I hope my newsletter may tempt you to sit down and draw today.
    In Africa, we met a most unusual and inspiring couple, Doug and Sandi Groves.  You can go to their Internet site, http//  My husband, Joe, and I spent the day with them and their three semi-habituated elephants.  Those would be elephants that have a strong bond with humans, but live a life of foraging and encounters like that of a wild elephant.  Elephants have a strong presence in my book, but the important lesson I learned from my time with the Groves was how valuable and precious these animals are. 
    If there's a message in my retelling of Noah's Ark, I hope that it would be the awe I feel being in the company of the complex, beautiful creatures of our earth.  My drawings are a way of reliving a life changing experience.  As we can see by Albrecht Durer's The Hare, a really talent artist can make an animal we see everyday a breathtaking experience.  I hope you and I can also touch something elemental when we draw birds and animals with thoughtfulness.   
   Good luck, I'm off to finish the flying squirrel that will appear on the first page of my newsnotes  --   
   Happy drawing!  Bye for now.

                                  Your friend,

                                    Jan Brett